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'''Linguistic relativism''' refers to speculations about the varied influence of different languages upon thought. So-called "strong" forms of linguistic relativism are known as [[linguistic determinism]]: The [[Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis]] is the best known example, in so far as it proposes that perception and cognition is determined or constrained by characteristics that vary between languages. A "weak" interpretation supposes that linguistic differences may influence "performance", but do not limit "competence".
Linguistic relativism is often contrasted with theories of [[universal grammar]] (UG), notably as elaborated by [[Noam Chomsky]]. UG emphasizes the role of evolution in developing a universal "mental grammar" as a capacity of the human species, which is said to serve as a foundation for all natural languages. The concept of universal grammar does not preclude the notion that language has a role in the formation of thought, but suggests that the common biological basis for the human capacity of language provides a "deep structure" that is a much stronger determinant than differences in the "surface structure" between languages.